Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Bloodroot by Amy Greene


Bloodroot by Amy Greene

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may well have found my favorite book of 2010 ... or at least one of my top 5! I love, love, love this book!

First, let's do a quick overview of the book (from Goodreads) -

Named for a flower whose blood-red sap possesses the power both to heal and poison, Bloodroot is a stunning fiction debut about the legacies—of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss—that haunt one family across the generations, from the Great Depression to today.

The novel is told in a kaleidoscope of seamlessly woven voices and centers around an incendiary romance that consumes everyone in its path: Myra Lamb, a wild young girl with mysterious, haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain; her grandmother Byrdie Lamb, who protects Myra fiercely and passes down “the touch” that bewitches people and animals alike; the neighbor boy who longs for Myra yet is destined never to have her; the twin children Myra is forced to abandon but who never forget their mother’s deep love; and John Odom, the man who tries to tame Myra and meets with shocking, violent disaster. Against the backdrop of a beautiful but often unforgiving country, these lives come together—only to be torn apart—as a dark, riveting mystery unfolds.

I'm not even sure where to start except to say that this book spoke to me. It got into my head and wouldn't let go. It was one of the best books I've read in a long time.

This is not a light, happy book. It's a dark, brooding, haunting book. Amy Greene creates a world of places and people that will stay with me for a long time. The novel has the feel of being an oral history. The interweaving voices of the characters gives the book an amazing fluidity that kept me from wanting to put the book down. This novel feels epic, almost like a saga. Yet, there is an intimacy to the novel that made it absolutely and utterly engrossing for me.

The writing is so well done. The seamless way that Greene is able to weave together so many different first person voices into one narrative was nothing short of amazing. When I think of the novel as a whole, I can really see the genius in what Greene created in this novel. She was able to expertly foreshadow so many events without ever giving anything away or giving the reader even a sense of foreshadowing. It's as if she created an amazing intertwining chain of pieces and parts that ultimately come together as a whole. Yet, none of the elements alone would work. It is only by placing them so expertly together that they have the emotional impact that they ultimately do at the conclusion of the novel.

The characters are drawn with such complexity that I was taken by each and every one of them. Good, bad, and indifferent. They were all compelling. Greene has an amazing ability to make you FEEL something for her characters, even the most unlikeable characters. Not only that, but she's able to make you change your feelings about them throughout the novel, as you learn more and more about the events of the plot. I was sure that I felt certain ways about certain characters and then suddenly I would find myself feeling something completely different than I'd expected to feel. I think this speaks volumes about how talented Amy Greene as a novelist. The geography and beauty of Bloodroot Mountain is so well drawn that the mountain becomes a critical character of the book. The sense of place in this novel is so expertly done that I truly felt as if I was there.

There is a great deal of pain, suffering and sadness in this book. It's not an easy read. It's emotionally wrenching. There were moments that simply took my breath away. I had to put the book down and just breathe for a moment. But, to me, that is what makes this book so amazing. It's what has stayed with me and what will likely continue to stay with me. The emotional impact of this book will stay with me for some time.
I could go on and on and on. But, I won't. I'm going to leave it at that. I recommend this novel wholeheartedly. It's certainly one of my favorite books this year. I cannot wait to see what Amy Greene has for us next! She is undoubtedly a talent to keep an eye on!

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